The Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) is considered to be the gold standard for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis. The 30-item structured interview corresponds to the diagnostic criteria for PTSD described in version 5 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The Life Events Checklist (LEC) is used in conjunction with the CAPS to assess PTSD Criterion A (the trauma experienced). The full interview typically takes 45-60 minutes to administer.
Use & availability
The CAPS is the intellectual property of the National Center for PTSD, a division of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It is available at no cost to health professionals, but a request for use must be submitted to VA. This can be done online at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/assessment/ncptsd-instrument-request-form.asp.
The CAPS has proven reliability and is well-validated. Initial validation of the DSM-5-aligned version shows r = .83 convergent validity with the widely-validated CAPS-IV. It has been translated into more than 10 languages, with validation studies occurring in Bosnian and Swedish.
Weathers, F.W., Keane, T.M., & Davidson, J.R.T. (2001). Clinician Administered PTSD Scale: The first 10 years of research. Depression and Anxiety, 13(3), 132-156.
Weathers, F.W., Blake, D.D., Schnurr, P.P., Kaloupek, D.G., Marx, B.P., & Keane, T.M. (2015). The Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5) – Past Month. Available from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/assessment/documents/ptsd_trauma_assessments.asp.